This afternoon the Ottawa Senators announced that they had returned Robin Lehner to their AHL affiliate in Binghamton and recalled Ben Bishop to take his place.
Despite last night's unimpressive totals and a modest 2-2-0 record, Lehner has posted some brilliant peripheral numbers in his four game stint -- a 2.01 GAA, a .938 save percentage and a shutout of the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins.
In light of should widely be considered a resounding success, news of Lehner's demotion will surely catch some of his proponents by surprise. It shouldn't. Ever since Bishop was acquired by the Senators for a 2013 second round pick on the day before the NHL trade deadline, management has been clear in their intent to afford Bishop some time to get acclimated within the organization before promoting him to the parent team.
As much as we can ridicule Alex Auld's game (or lack thereof) and wonder why the organization would not be tempted to allow their two young goalies to run with the ball, demoting Lehner is the cost effective solution that allows him to build off whatever confidence he just gained at the NHL level. At the same time, if Ben Bishop only sees Auld whenever he looks over his shoulder, the threat of losing his playing time isn't as imminent.
What Others are Saying:
Kurt Kleinendorst to the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin (via the National Post):
"There's just something that goes with a goaltender like Ben that just makes your team better. They feel secure. ... I don't say that disrespectfully to Mike (McKenna) or Robin. There's just something about having a goalie like Ben back there that brings out the best in your group."Over at NHL.com, The Goalie Guild's Justin Goldman indulges in some prospect porn discussing the next wave of Eastern Conference goaltenders who are on the brink of stardom. On his list of the top ten goaltenders, Lehner comes in at number two behind Florida's Jacob Markstrom and Bishop ranks fifth trailing Vancouver's Eddie Lack and Minnesota's Matt Hackett.
Instead of purging Goldman's piece of his take on Ottawa's young goaltending tandem, just do yourself a favor and check it out. It's a worthwhile read.